Spano defends county gov't in annual speech

Westchester County Executive Andy Spano delivered his 12th State of the County Address Thursday night faced with a national economic crisis and attacks against the government he presides over.

Spano told the audience that Westchester is well-equipped to handle whatever the economy throws its way. Foreclosures are through the roof and the store vacancy rate is at 19 percent, but Spano said because he and other leaders planned ahead and have spent conservatively, Westchester is in better shape than neighboring counties.

?No county is in a better position to meet the challenges ahead than Westchester,? Spano said.

The county executive says federal stimulus dollars are already trickling in to the county, helping to create new jobs. For the first time in a long time, the county?s unemployment rate crept back up last month.

Spano also spent a considerable amount of time defending the existence of county government, as the movement calling for its abolishment has grown. He said though the county government has been blamed for high taxes, it has kept property taxes at a rate far less than the increases in the consumer price index. ?And at the same time,? he said, ?we have served more people than ever before.?

Spano is up for re-election this year.

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